How important is your post workout snack? It's everything! Forget about all of your hard work if you're neglecting your body's needs in the hour-long window following exercise. What you put in your body can aid recovery of muscles, prevent soreness and assist in muscle gain. Don't cheat yourself! Below are 10 great post-workout meals and snacks that won't disappoint your taste buds.
1. Chocolate Milk
Need an excuse to drink this childhood favorite? Here it is: the balance of different proteins in milk, casein and whey allow for fast ingestion as well as slow-acting benefits. Chocolate will give you the carbohydrates your body needs (and will satisfy your sweet tooth).
2. Berries and Greek Yogurt
Berries have an extremely high antioxidant capacity. Consuming them regularly, especially post workout, can prevent muscle soreness and inflammation. Add them to Greek yogurt, which packs up to 18 grams of protein, and it's practically dessert!
3. Chicken and Rice
A bodybuilder favorite for years. Get creative and make it into a stir fry with lots of veggies, or add some cashews for essential omega-3 fatty acids. It's simple to cook and easy to store ahead of time in the fridge.
It's higher in protein than rice and is an easy addition to chili, breakfast cereals or salads. Mix quinoa with garbanzo beans, zucchini, lemon, garlic and lots of herbs and spices for a great-tasting vegetarian recovery meal.
5. Tuna and Crackers
One can of tuna can pack 42 grams of protein! Plus, it's incredibly lean. Don't forget to add a carbohydrate to your snack--you need both after a workout--so, consider whole wheat pita or crackers.
6. Kale Banana Protein Smoothie
Adding Kale to your smoothie after a workout may give it a funky color, but you'll hardly taste the difference. It also contains more antioxidants than any other green. Try mixing vanilla protein powder, a frozen banana, a handful of kale and almond milk in a blender.
7. Chia Seeds
You're missing out if you're avoiding this weird super food! Add chia seeds to water and they create a gel-like consistency you can use to thicken smoothies, add substance to puddings, or mix into baked goods. They are practically tasteless, and are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Mix the seeds into orange juice or lemon water for a super easy and very beneficial drink. It's perfect after a light jog or yoga session.
8. (Mostly) Egg White Omelet
Certain vitamins, including A, E, K and D, are only found in the yolk of an egg. Egg yolks have a bad rep, but one a day won't break your health. In fact, eating four to five egg whites in addition to a yolk will give you the protein your body needs, without missing out on essential
If you need a portable, easy and great-tasting healthy snack for after the gym, try pre-cooked lentils. Brands like "Tasty Bite" make deliciously flavored lentil dishes that pack 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber in every serving. It's perfect for an on-the-go refuel.
10. Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash
When you're bored with chicken, turkey cutlets are a wonderful alternative lean protein. Add sautéed bell pepper, onion and sweet potato for a complete anytime meal. After a long hike or run, this healthy protein/carbohydrate combo will hit the spot!
Rachel Betsch has emerged herself in functional fitness and effective training methods as a lifeguard, a sergeant in the US Army, and a hiking and biking guide at Canyon Ranch. Currently, as an outdoor sports enthusiast and a wildland firefighter, fitness remains ever relevant. Rachel is in constant search of new and exciting fitness trends and loves assisting others in pursuit of their own health and fitness goals. She can be reached at RachelBetsch@live.com.